The Bulls were well beaten by the Crusaders last weekend and they face another tough challenge this weekend as the Highlanders have won their last six matches.
The Bulls have played nine matches this season winning three. The Highlanders have played ten matches, winning seven.
Overall, the Bulls have played the Highlanders 17 times; they have won just five matches and drawn one.
The Highlanders have won 11 of the 17 matches, four of the last six, but only their 2009 clash saw the Kiwis beat Die Blou Bulle by more than a goal.
Hanro Liebenberg is captaining the Bulls today and is believed to be the youngest skipper for the franchise, ever.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: BEEP! BEEP! Tian Schoeman gets us underway in a cold, wet Pretoria.
3.00: The game begins with some tactical kicking. Eventually, the hosts get their hands on the ball and go several phases before being held up over the Highlanders’ try-line. Scrum to the Bulls on the 5, under the posts. The field is slippery underfoot and the scrums will need many resets.
5.00: The Bulls are awarded a penalty for collapsing by the Kiwis. The Bulls decide for a shot at goal, seven metres out, in front of the sticks.
6.00: PENALTY! Tian Schoeman gets his team on the board.
8.00: The Bulls retain possession from the restart and go through some more phases. Their maul earns another penalty after Alex Ainley is penalised for collapses it. Schoeman kicks to touch.
11.00: The Highlanders kick the ball away. Schoeman takes the 22 drop-out, the visitors, through Matt Faddes and Patrick Osborne, counter-attack, but the move breaks down. The home team attack, Piet van Zyl puts in a box kick and Faddes’ kick is charged down by Jamba Ulengo; lineout to the Kiwis inside their 22.
14.00: The Highlanders win a lineout inside their 22 and start a drive. Aaron Smith kicks a big up-and-under, it’s regathered, but Burger Odendaal kicks the ball out when the right option was to run.
16.00: Another kick by the Bulls goes dead; the Highlanders will have a 22 drop-out. Fletcher Smith is on for Marty Banks, who is receiving treatment for blood.
18.00: TRY Matt Faddes! From the scrum, Richard Buckman receives a double-skip pass from Aaron Smith and puts in a wonderful little chip kick behind the Bulls defenders. The ball sits up and the fullback gathers, before Jamba Ulengo or Jade Stighling can collect, and runs away to score.
19.00: Fletcher Smith converts from in front of the polls. The visitors have the lead in the opening quarter.
21.00: The Highlanders win a penalty for a ruck infringement and they will opt for goal.
22.00: PENALTY! Fletcher Smith slots the kick from about 40 metres. He goes off straight after for the returning Marty Banks. Nice job.
25.00: Warrick Gelant’s misplaced kick goes over the dead-ball line. That is the fourth poor kick by the Bulls. The Highlanders have the scrum inside Bulls territory. They win the free-kick and opt for another scrum.
28.00: We are having to move the scrums because the field is cutting up. It’s near the sideline now. Reset, again.
30.00: The Bulls turn the ball over, but so do the Highlanders. It is kicked forward and Banks saves the day. Aaron Smith clears, but the ball is not out. Jade Stighling starts another counter-attack. Tom Franklin wins the loose ball, kicks forward, but the ball is out over the dead-ball. Not sure the lock should have been kicking, or on the wing. Bulls 22 drop-out as a rainbow arcs over Loftus Versfeld.
33.00: Both teams seem intent on kicking the ball away and for territory. The game is being played between the 22s as they search for the advantage. The handling has been good, considering the slippery conditions.
35.00: Malakai Fekitoa kicks the ball out on the full; the hosts will have the lineout on their 10. They win the ball and set up a maul. Ulengo chases the box kick but loses the ball forward. It will be a scrum to the Highlanders.
37.00: Aaron Smith’s little grubber kick gives his team good field position, inside the Bulls’ 22. Piet van Zyl kicks away and Osborne loses the ball, recovers and returns the kick. The Bulls decided to run the ball wide and are punching it through the middle with their forwards. Eventually, the game is called to a halt after a knock on by the Highlanders.
39.00: Jade Stighling punches a hole through the Highlanders’ defence. The move breaks down and is cleared by the Highlanders.
40.00: The hooter sounds, and the ball is launched into the stands.
The half-time score is Bulls 3 Highlanders 10
The Bulls have had 58 percent possession and 62 percent territorial advantage, but can’t find a way to put points on the board. They have tackled well, missing one to the tourists’ eight, but the magic from Richard Buckman and Matt Faddes separates the two sides at the break.
The visitors have won four turnovers to one and made 42 tackles to the Bulls’ 21. There have been 59 kicks out of hand in the first-half.
41.00: BEEP! BEEP! Jaco van Heerden blows his whistle and the game restarts with the Bulls receiving the kick-off.
44.00: The game has started where it left off in the first-half; lots of kicking and mauling.
46.00: The Highlanders are making some front row changes. They repelled an early Bulls storm inside their 22. Somehow, the ball is still with the home team and they come again.
47.00: TRY Warrick Gelant! The fullback latches onto Burger Odendaal’s kick, Matt Faddes slips as he attempts to play the ball, Gelant kicks the loose ball and dives on top of it to give his team their first try of the match.
48.00: Schoeman converts from wide and the scores are level.
51.00: The Bulls win a penalty after Dillon Hunt is penalised for playing the ball on the ground, and he was off his feet.
53.00: MISS! Schoeman misses a chance to give the Bulls the lead; not a great kick at all. It is still level in Pretoria.
55.00: Strong defence by the Highlanders. Elliot Dixon and some of his pack hold up Burger Odendaal and win the scrum feed.
58.00: There is a stop in play as replacements flood the field. The Highlanders have the scrum, just outside their 22. The scrum goes down and needs another reset.
60.00: Waisake Naholo breaks a tackle and runs free up field. He is supported by Buckman, who is tackled. The ball is recycled, but the Bulls turn the ball over and counter-attack. The move breaks down and the Highlanders counter the home team’s counter-attack. The Bulls have the lineout inside their 22.
63.00: Burger Odendaal is taken out by Waisake Naholo’s shoulder charge. The centre juggles the ball and is then hit in the face by the winger’s shoulder. Could be yellow for Naholo.
64.00: RED CARD! Waisake Naholo is sent off. Massive call by Jaco van Heerden and TMO Johan Greeff. Ash Dixon is not impressed and questions the referee’s call, but the winger is off.
67.00: The Bulls have a line-out on the Highlander’s 22. They need to make the numbers count.
68.00: The bulls win a penalty. They went crash-ball, route-one and came away with nothing. They should take the three.
70.00: No. They decide not to kick, lose the ball and the Highlanders clear. Lineout to the Bulls, but inside their half.
72.00: RED CARD! Rudolph Snyman’s match is over. He is sent to off for a shoulder charge to the head. Terrible and stupid!
73.00: Seven to go, it’s 10-all and both teams have 14 men.
75.00: Bulls have a defensive lineout, 10 metres from their line. They win a penalty and can clear the danger.
76.00: TRY Malakai Fekitoa! He cuts through the Bulls defence like a hot knife through butter to score under the sticks. It comes from a lineout steal by his forwards. Ulengo is stepped as the winger dives in under the poles.
77.00: Marty Banks adds the extras.
80.00: The Highlanders have seen off the Bulls in a turgid contest thanks to that late Fekitoa try.
Final score is Bulls 10 (3) Highlanders 17 (10)
Tries – Gelant
Pen – Schoeman
Con – Schoeman
Cards – Snyman (Red, 73rd minute)
Tries – Faddes, Fekitoa
Pen – F. Smith
Con – F. Smith, Banks
Cards – Naholo (Red, 64th minute)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Johan Greeff
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Coenraad van Vuuren, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Nick de Jager, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Teihorangi Walden.